The Go Step

This is the final installment in this series which builds an emergency plan to match escalating weather danger. In the first part, the “Ready” step was explored, the biggest part of the planning. "Next, the “Set” step, is more of a staging step based on the outline provided in the “Ready” step – when threats are on the horizon. We conclude with the “GO” step where it’s time to take the necessary action to protect property and your most important asset – people.

This is where the rubber meets the road and you find out just how well your plan stands up to a real legitimate threat. The illusion of safety is replaced by the reality of imminent danger. You hope you are ready, but “hope” really can’t be your strategy to ensure business continuity. You also can’t live in the world of denial, thinking that the infrequency of extreme events means you will won’t ever face one. If you have done the “Ready” and “Set” steps properly, you stand a better chance of achieving success.

From the weather perspective, watches have become warnings. This means that tornadoes, severe thunderstorms with destructive winds and hail and flash flooding are happening NOW, requiring immediate, life-saving action.

Your plan should ensure that you have a way to instantly know of these dangers and that you can communicate with key decision-makers. This way, they can confidently know if they need to evacuate, head for shelter or go wherever the emergency plan directs. The “Set” step, for example, is a time to stock emergency supplies in the designated safe place. This is much more difficult to accomplish when danger is moments away.

In addition to sheltering staff, you also need consider alerting staff who may be scheduled to arrive that it is not safe to do so. This is one way a WeatherCall Enterprise client uses our service. When a warning is issued, they receive precise information on the storm movements and use that to let team members know to delay their departure from home.

Once in a place of safety, you need to have a way to monitor conditions to know how long the danger could last and to be notified when it is safe to resume operations. In some cases, this could be obvious, but in the event of long-track severe weather outbreaks, you may have to do this drill several times in a sequence, or consider waiting to come out of the safe place until the last storm exits the region.

As you get word that you are no longer in danger, you need to be able to assess any damage, tend to any who are injured and communicate conditions up and down the management chain. Be sure to include first aid, basic repair equipment and other tools in your supply list.

Hopefully, you come through the storm with minimal damage and can continue operating, but that will depend on a) how well you prepared and b) how potent the storm was. You can’t control the latter, but you can address the former with good planning. Realize there is no “perfect” plan and prepare to use each experience to iteratively improve. Enlist input from all stakeholders to find out what worked, what didn’t and what gap needs to be filled the next time. Just realize there will be a next time.

For some, this series has been a good reminder of some best practices and for others, it could be a wake-up call for the need to take a hard look at their current plans to make serious changes. Either way, I hope this has been informative. If you’d like copies of the earlier installments in this “Ready, Set, GO” safety series, email gene.norman@weathercall.net.

Gene Norman is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist who has helped businesses enhance their safety process as well as provided weather education to community and civic organizations. Learn more about how WeatherCall Enterprise helps businesses with their continuity plans here.